Lights out in the Burbs


October 27, 2012 by Colleen Morris

As we experienced 4 weeks into moving here, power outages are a real and common occurrence in the burbs. Unlike NYC, all the electricity here is above ground. So when the wind blows, a falling tree limb can easily knock out the power lines for an entire community.

And it’s not just sitting in the dark, cozying up with a bottle of wine, that concerns me. Apparently long power outages can mean no running water. No flushing toilets. No showers. No water to drink or cook with. Milk and meats going bad in the fridge. Ice cream melting in the freezer. Cleaning out and restocking. No oven. No microwave. No cartoons. No internet. No train service. No working traffic lights.

Should I go on? Or did I already convince you to stay put in your walk-in closet but highly functioning NYC apartment?

My neighbors told me that last year’s Hurricane Irene followed by the Halloween Nor’easter sent the town, and well, the entire state, into a tail spin. I heard it took 8 days or more to restore power to some residents from Irene’s wrath, then another week with no electricity from the unexpected fall snowstorm. Residents without water were lining up at the shower stall’s on a daily basis at Equinox down the street.

And when its a hurricane that’s causing the power outages, then you’re in a heep of trouble. Besides CP&L trying to restore multiple power outages all over the state, there’s flooding. I heard several tales about homeowners desperately trying to pump out 3 feet of water from their basements. And wreaking havoc with ruined soggy boxes from their basement, and of course the new pond in their front yard.

Not to mention all the falling trees and limbs causing damage to rooftops. And the excessive tree branch pile-ups on roads, lawns and driveways. I’m sure there is already a business for storm clean-ups here in Fairfield County.

And don’t even think of driving in a heavy downpour on these back country roads. You’ll drive through one flooded puddle, and blow out your engine. This actually happened to my father-in-law’s Audi. Then you’re really SOL. Now I really understand the necessity of driving these gas guzzling SUVs here. We bought one anticipating the need.

Many residents are forced to buy generators. This helps alleviate some of the issues. Then your next problem is having too many house guests coming over to take a hot shower and use your WiFi. I may be one of those unwanted house guests soon enough.

So how does one prepare for these big storms like the impending Sandy? Well, we went to our Stop ‘N Shop this morning, and bought a large case of bottled water. At 11am, the water aisle already looked like it was heavily invaded by people who know better.

We also made sure our three flashlights had working batteries. We recently bought a super-sized one since the last power outage. And later today, we’ll bring in our pair of plastic adirondack chairs off our balcony so they don’t fly off and hit one of our neighbors or their cars.

Our rental community emailed out a memo this afternoon with a few other safety precautions that we, city slickers, hadn’t even thought of. We were advised to fill our bath tubs with water to use for effective toilet flushing. Keep blinds closed to prevent broken glass from entering our homes. Also to have a battery powered radio on-hand. We actually have one! Just need to check batteries.

We were also reminded to release the red cord on our automatic garage door before power went out so we can use it manually. And to ensure our vehicle gas tanks are full in case of an evacuation.

All these precautions kinda made me really worried so I sent my husband out to buy more wine. God forbid I’m stuck here in the dark for days.

If our power does goes out for days, we’ll probably head to my in-laws, who live a few towns north of us and have a generator. A smart purchase they made after last year’s hurricane and nor’easter.

And there’s a slight chance I may escape back to the city if my husband’s employer puts him up in a hotel room. I will happily welcome room service, a hot shower, and a cup of coffee during a time of crisis.

Best of luck for those in the burbs. I hope Hurricane Sandy downgrades to a gentle breeze. And for those in NYC, while you may have suspended MTA service, please relish in your luxurious abodes. Take a hot bath, watch a movie with the lights on, and cook a steak. Then invite me over. Please!



4 thoughts on “Lights out in the Burbs

  1. The storms last year were no fun, and certainly this one was is forecasted to be worse, but in case it provides some consolation: we did lose power for 4 days with Irene and about 36 hours with Snowtober, it wasn’t horrible. We did seek showers elsewhere not because we had no water, but because we had no furnace and thus no hot water heater.

    The Darien Library was an amazing resource, with power throughout the storm and plenty of outlets for gadget charging. They also organized impromptu movies and activities for kids. The Y is great too–the offered showers to town residents (not just members, I think) and had open gym so that kids home from school had places to run around.

    Best of luck weathering this storm–it’s all kind of an adventure, right?

  2. Colleen says:

    Thanks so much for posting your comment, Jacquie. I had not heard about how hospitable our library and Y were during last year’s storms. Sounds like the community really helped families out. And yes, very much an adventure for us!

  3. Sabrina says:

    I don’t want 2 worry u unnecessarily, Colleen but had close friends who live in West Port N New Caneen, Ct with 3 kids each n had no power for 8 days or so. Plz be prepared for this, if u can.

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